Statement On New Mexico House Passage Of SB53 Addressing Storage Of High-Level Nuclear Waste


The New Mexico House passed SB53 (Sen. Jeff Steinborn, Representatives Matthew McQueen, Debra Marie Sariñana, Patricia Roybal Caballero) Friday afternoon 35-28.

The legislation, which prevents permitting for “temporary” storage of the nation’s high-level nuclear waste in New Mexico, now moves to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk.

In response, advocates issued the following statements:

Sen. Steinborn, SB53 sponsor: 

“Today was a great win for New Mexico and the country. We protected our state from this short-sighted and long-term dangerous plan and in doing so, pushed the federal  government toward what needs to be the real solution, which is a permanent repository.”

Rose Gardner, AFES Co-founder, Lea County resident:

“A decisive vote on SB53 proves that New Mexico knows that Holtec’s vision of a massive nuclear-waste dump storing the nation’s high-level waste here is not welcome. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has urged the legislature to pass this bill, and her signature is the last step before it becomes law.” 

Leona Morgan, Diné anti-nuclear activist and community organizer:

“This is a momentous step forward to show the world that we can protect ourselves from never-ending radioactive waste. Our communities will no longer allow our Sacred Homelands to be sacrificed and contaminated by nuclear colonialism!”

Wendy Atcitty, NAEVA: 

“It’s time for New Mexico to say ‘no’ to a nuclear gateway to let toxic waste travel through tribal lands. We say ‘no’ to the past uranium mines that scar our landscape and contaminate our water. We say no to all nuclear waste that continues the trauma in health for our people. We say ‘no’ to Holtec’s high-level nuclear waste that would’ve made more communities susceptible to this toxic-dump disaster. Protection is now, not when a spill, leak, derailment, or people are sick for many generations.”

Patricia Cardona, policy analyst for Southwest Alliance For A Safe Future (SAFE):  

“We congratulate the New Mexico Legislature for passing SB 53 which directs NM state agencies not to issue permits for constructing an “interim” storage project  for 30 million highly radioactive fuel rods.  A broad coalition of groups including SAFE evaluated the HOLTEC project as net loss of land and water for NM which could be better used for diversifying NM economy.”

Camilla Feibelman, Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter director:

“Communities that opted to host nuclear power plants got the energy, jobs and property taxes, but Holtec would allow them to export all the costs to the communities along the rail lines and to New Mexico. This legislation said ‘no.’ The federal government needs to follow its own law and identify and operate a permanent storage facility before making us the country’s de facto nuclear-waste dump. Federal law is not optional.”

Douglas Meiklejohn, advocate for water quality and land restoration:

“Conservation Voters New Mexico is grateful to the Legislature for taking this step to protect our beautiful state.”

Noah Long, NRDC, Western director of the Climate and Clean Energy Program: 

“This is yet another chapter and long story of the nuclear industry in the federal government, treating nuclear waste siting as if it’s throwing a dart at the board, and drawing a circle around it, and then suggesting they found the site. New Mexico’s passage of this bill is consistent with the actions of Tennessee, Kansas, Texas, Nevada, and everywhere else the industry and federal government has tried nuclear-waste siting without state consent. Instead, what the federal government, industry, and everyone else should be doing is working to find the right consent-based path to geologic repositories in a manner that is both scientifically defensible and publicly accepted. We look forward to constructive engagement now that this has passed.”

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